DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces bombed cities, towns and refugee camps across Gaza overnight and into Thursday, killing dozens. air and ground attacks Against Hamas which has spread across much of the region and forced thousands of people to flee their homes and shelters.
The war has already killed more than 20,000 Palestinians and driven some 85% of the population of 2.3 million from their homes. most of northern Gaza has been leveled, largely deserted and isolated from the rest of the region for weeks. Many fear that the south will meet a similar fate.
Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas - which is still putting up a stiff resistance, even in the north - and repatriating more than 100 hostages who are still held by the militants Their attack on southern Israel on October 7In which about 1,200 people were killed, mostly civilians.
Israel has rejected international calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be a victory for Hamas.
The United States – while providing significant support for the offensive – has urged Israel to take greater steps to protect civilians and allow more aid. But aid workers say the amount of food, fuel and medical supplies arriving is still far below what is needed, and 1 in 4 Palestinians in Gaza are dying of hungerAccording to United Nations officials.
attacks from north to south
An Israeli airstrike on a house in the northern town of Beit Lahiyah – one of the first targets of the ground offensive that began in October – buried at least 21 people, including women and children, according to a family member.
Bassel Khair al-Din, a journalist for a local TV station, said his family's home was destroyed by the attack and three neighboring houses were seriously damaged. He said 12 members of his family - including three children aged 2, 7 and 8 - were buried and presumed dead, and nine neighbors were missing.
In central Gaza, Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked the constructed Burij and Nussirat refugee camps, razing buildings to the ground, residents said. Israel said this week it would expand its ground offensive into central Gaza, and would normally launch airstrikes and shelling before troops and tanks arrive.
A hospital in the nearby city of Deir al-Balah received the bodies of 25 people killed overnight, including five children and seven women, hospital records showed on Thursday. The sound of explosions could be heard non-stop throughout the night in the city - where hundreds of thousands of people have sought shelter, many of whom are spending the cold nights sleeping on pavements.
"It was another night of killing and massacre," said Saeed Mustafa, a resident of Nusirat camp. He said people were still screaming from the debris of a house hit by the air strike on Wednesday.
“We are unable to get them out. We hear their screams but we don't have equipment,'' he said.
Farther south, in Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said at least 10 people were killed and 12 others were wounded in an attack near its al-Amal hospital. Most of the city's population has fled, but many remain sheltering near al-Amal and another hospital. Hopefully they will survive the bombing.
another wave of displacement
Rami Abu Mosab, who lives in the Burij refugee camp, said thousands of people have fled their homes in recent days due to the intense bombardment. He plans to stay there because he does not feel anywhere in Gaza is safe.
"There is death here and there is death," he said, "it is better to die in your own home."
Burij and Nussirat are among several camps throughout the region that were built around the creation of Israel to house hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war. They have since developed into crowded residential areas.
About 700,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during that conflict, known as the Palestinian exodus. Nakba, or disaster as, Approximately 1.9 million people have been displaced in Gaza since October 7.
As Israel escalates its offensive, fleeing Palestinians have flocked to areas along the Egyptian border and southern Mediterranean coast, filling shelters and tent camps. Even in those areas, Israel continues to attack sites it says are terrorist targets.
The Israeli military blames Hamas, which deploys fighter planes, tunnels and rocket launchers in dense residential areas, for the high civilian death toll. But the military rarely comments on personal attacks.
Israel's offensive in Gaza has already been one of most destructive military operations In recent history. More than 21,100 PalestiniansAccording to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza, most of these women and children have been killed. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
Without presenting any evidence, the army says it has killed thousands of terrorists and 167 of its soldiers have been killed in ground strikes.
Magee reported from Cairo. Associated Press writer Najib Joben contributed from Rafah, Gaza Strip.
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